Yesterday at Babson College, an unlikely band assembled to talk about food. They were part of From Day One, an annual academic opener to expose Babson’s students to opportunities for social innovation through business.
Roundtable Discussions gave students a chance to interact with innovators in the field. One of these featured:
- Lee Kane, Regional Forager and EcoCzar, Whole Foods Market
- Ben Anderson, COO, Preserve
- Amma Sefa-Dedeh, Executive Director, One Hen
- Rachel Greenberger, Director, Food Sol
Whole Foods is a household name, and you may know Preserve – so it is One Hen that warrants explanation:
The One Hen model fuses practical education, global perspective, and personal empowerment. Through stories and games, elementary school children learn leadership, teamwork and communication in the context of a world issue. In teams, they design a project to make a difference around one of two themes: microfinance and sustainable agriculture.
Undergrads, MBAs, staff, friends and colleagues joined the guest innovators. Age, nationality, title, and experience ran the gamut, but in true Babson form, there was no hierarchy- and no “roundtable” – just chairs drawn together in a circle – a signal to break down barriers.
With minor setting and wardrobe changes, it easily could have been a Native American talking circle – not a business school.
Topics ranged from career path to personal values to influencing corporate adoption of social initiatives to venture creation to impacts of “business as usual” in the food industry.
Through the conversation, one truth became vitally clear:
Pinpointing what an individual knows or doesn’t know, cares or doesn’t care about when it comes to food is fundamental to sustainably growing the movements. Everyone has deep food roots, but like fingerprints, each is a little different.
All too often, food advocacy amounts to one choir preaching to another. While this can help to bolster spirits, it does not produce anything new or actionable.
Aligning interests for a food fight means first understanding individual food roots. Only from these can a coalition effectively spark ideas, design a plan, and work together to plant seeds of change.
Food is so personal yet so universal. We are not as different as we think – and we can make a difference.
The children get it. So can you. Start now.